Artur Davis: GOP won’t make gains with blacks, should focus on Latinos and blue collars

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat, former Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, one of the president’s most famous detractors, stressed the Republican Party’s need to expand its appeal among Latinos and white working-class voters.

In an post-election interview, the four-term former Democratic representative — who seconded the official nomination of Barack Obama in 2008 and went on to speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention — told The Daily Caller that Romney’s single-minded focus on the economy was a big factor in his loss on Election Day.

“The problem with the message that was focused exclusively on the economy is that economic numbers change,” he said. “And you saw that, over the course of the campaign, it was not uncommon back in January and February for Romney and other Republicans to describe the economy as the worst economy that we had had in — fill in the blank, some would say a generation, some would say since the depression. As the year progressed, even though the rate of job growth was tepid by historic standards, you saw measurable movement in consumer confidence over the course of this year.”

The former Democrat pointed out that polls showed that only about 20 percent of Americans believed that the country was heading in the right direction throughout much of 2011. That number more than doubled by Election Day, when exit polling found that 46 percent of voters said they believed the country was heading in the right direction.

“A message that was focused exclusively on the economy wasn’t going to be enough to win as the economy started to slowly, grudgingly make its way back,” Davis said, adding that Romney should have focused on the president’s failure to live up to his promised role of partisan unifier.

“When Gov. Romney began to speak about that aspect of Obama’s failings beginning with the first debate, you started to see his numbers move ,and you also started to see his favorable numbers move dramatically,” he said. “I am convinced that there was a group of Americans who were firmly prepared to defeat Obama simply on one ground, that Barack Obama did not produce the kind of promise and reunification of the country he talked about four years ago.”

The campaign needed to court that group of voters “aggressively” and for a longer amount of time than just the weeks before the election, Davis explained.